Why a “Scottish Church” for the people of Canada?
Although the first members of Free Presbyterian churches in Canada were largely from Scottish descent, there are compelling reasons why the FPSC should remain and in fact grow in Canada.
First, Reformed Christians in Canada need assemblies of like-minded brothers and sisters who heartily believe that the regulative principle of worship is true biblical worship. God is pleased when worship is focused upon and directed by His Word alone.
Second, Reformed Christians in Canada need assemblies that hold to and promote the truths set forth in the Westminster Standards to the Word of God. (Regrettably all of the major Presbyterian denominations in North America, even conservative, do not hold to the original Westminster Standards. For more on this topic, see below.)
Third, Reformed Christians in Canada need assemblies that are connected to the historical reformed church. The reasons why a connection to the Church of Scotland is edifying is discussed below.
Why is a Connection to the Historical Church of Scotland Important?
This matter goes back to the Reformation times. At that time, there were four main divisions of Christendom outside of the Church of Rome – the Lutherans, the Reformed, the Anglicans and the Anabaptists. Scotland and a few countries in Europe gathered under the Reformed banner, recognizing it to be the most biblical in terms of theological matters such as salvation and in terms of the Reformed understanding of church governance and the relation of the magistrate (civil government) to the church. Reformers were convinced that the Church was to be ruled by Christ alone, in accordance with His Word. Details such as officer qualifications and organizational structure within the church were to follow the Bible alone. They were also convinced that civil powers should support the church.
Scotland became the first nation in the Christian world to establish a National Covenant, signed by church leaders, lay persons and the government, with the express intention to work together to keep Scotland a Christian land. Later on, at the time of the famous Westminster Assembly, Scotland joined England and Ireland in signing the Solemn League and Covenant, vowing to keep the three kingdoms Christian (Protestant and Reformed). At that time, Canada was under the governance of Britain, and therefore it was included in this Covenant. Shortly afterwards, the King in England broke this covenant and England reverted to Anglicanism. Scotland, however, maintained its Presbyterian form of government, even during intense persecution. That country became the sole witness to the Reformed faith in the United Kingdom and its dominions. Canada, being a commonwealth country, has its ties – not only political but spiritual, to the faithful Reformers in Scotland.
Finally, we believe that the early Church of Scotland took upon biblical reform with more purity than any other church during the time of the reformation – even more than the continental churches. The Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland has held to these reformation principles and kept the faith of their fathers. We believe that Christians in Canada should follow their example and join the FPCS in a return to the high water mark of what is called the second reformation.
What was our force? What was our number? What wisdom or worldly policy was in us, to have brought to a good end so great an enterprise? — our very enemies can bear witness. Yet in how great purity did God establish among us His True Religion, as well in doctrine as in ceremonies! As touching the doctrine taught by our Ministers, and as touching the Administration of Sacraments used in our Churches, we are bold to affirm, that there is no realm this day upon the face of the earth, that hath them in greater purity. Yea — we must speak the truth, whomsoever we offend — there is no realm that hath them in the like purity. All others — how sincere so ever the doctrine be that by some is taught — retain in their Churches, and in the Ministers thereof, some footsteps of Antichrist, and some dregs of Papistry; but we, all praise to God alone! have nothing within our Churches that ever flowed from that Man of Sin. This we acknowledge to be the strength given to us by God, because we esteemed not ourselves wise in our own eyes, but, understanding our own wisdom to be but foolishness before the Lord our God, we laid it aside, and followed only that which we found approved by Himself.
– John Knox (Preface to Book 4 of the Reformation of Religion)
In Germany, Christ was lifted up as Priest; in Geneva as Profit; and in Scotland as King. That is the glory of Scotland. She has not only believed in Jesus Christ as the all-sufficient Sacrifice and Advocate for each individual soul, nor rested in him merely as of the all-sufficient Instructor, revealing the whole will of God for each ecclesiastical as well as individual guidance, but besides these two she has had a fuller revelation of the glory of Jesus Christ: she has seen him as her King.
Germany struck the key-note of the Reformation, and preached faith, faith in the adequate work of the great high priest.
Geneva added to the faith of Germany the knowledge that comes from careful attention to the instructions of the “Prophet like unto Moses”.
But Scotland added to the faith of the one in the knowledge of the other, loyalty to a personal and glorious King. Hers was a mighty step in advance.
- – Rev. John Ross of Brucefield, Ontario